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Do I Have the Strength to Leave Him?

I entered our kitchen through the back door. On the counter sat a small box wrapped in lavender paper and adorned with a jaunty purple bow. It was my thirtieth birthday gift from my husband.

Jeff can't even give it to me himself, I thought. At work that morning, over-the-hill cards and gag gifts had littered my desk. My birthday means more to my co-workers than it does to my own husband.

I felt the smooth satin ribbon, then tore open the package with a sigh. Inside the box nestled a delicate silver watch. I found Jeff watching TV in the living room and thanked him.

"Do you want to go out for dinner?" he asked.

"I don't know."

"If you don't want to, you don't have to."

I had hurt him; I tried to muster some enthusiasm. "I do want to go out with you. Give me a few minutes to get ready."

An hour later I glanced over my menu at Jeff, seated on the opposite side of the booth. His dark-blond hair still waved over his forehead, but three years as associate pastor in a large city church had changed him—and ...

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